The anonymous portrait: a creative and critical investigation of diaspora, portraiture, subjectivity

Weiss, Gali (2008) The anonymous portrait: a creative and critical investigation of diaspora, portraiture, subjectivity. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis proposes a viewing of portraiture through the conceptualisation and consciousness of diaspora. The thesis is divided into two sections: a creative body of original artwork and a supporting exegesis. The practice-based part of the thesis presents collective, non-essentialised portraits in the form of installations comprising works-on-paper and artist’s books, while the exegesis investigates artistic and intellectual perspectives on portraiture in light of some contemporary thinking on diaspora theory and experience. Together, the two parts of the thesis propose a re-visioning and “rethinking” of the relationship between portraiture, diaspora and subjectivity that shifts the function of the portrait from a referential to a performative role, finding significance not in the fixed identity of a sitter/subject, but in the relational and collective subjectivities forged between artist, subject and viewer. By positioning portraiture alongside diaspora, I have explored notions that arise from shared experiences of diaspora, drawing on the critical vocabulary of postmodernist cultural discourses of globalisation and dispersion while examining how contemporary portraiture can reflect such an understanding of the world, and in particular how it interacts with and “thinks through” notions of identity, subjectivity and representation.

Additional Information

Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Arts)

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 410000 The Arts
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Keywords Portraits, portraiture, diaspora, forced migration
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